Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

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Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby PeterW » Sun May 09, 2010 12:23 am UTC

Story here
Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far and hope to complete it. By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans, the team concluded that about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals. But the Neanderthal DNA does not seem to have played a great role in human evolution, they said.

Experts believe that the Neanderthal genome sequence will be of extraordinary importance in understanding human evolutionary history since the two species split some 600,000 years ago.
In addition to the obvious, this study also falsifies the strong Out-of-Africa hypothesis, by showing that there were genetically distinct groups of humans as much at 100,000 years ago.

Now excuse me, I need to go hunt some mammoth.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby poxic » Sun May 09, 2010 1:38 am UTC

I wouldn't say that it falsifies out-of-Africa, only that we can say there wasn't one wave of migration at one particular time, leading to one particular modern species. There were probably many migrations, over lots of time, of different species or sub-species of people-like people.

That said, I'm kind of happy to know that I could be carrying some Neandertal genes. Like maybe there were just a few Homo sapiens weirdos who thought their Neandertal neighbours weren't totally evil and ugly and could in fact be friends and lovers, and I carry forward their genes.

/knowing what I know about people in general, that's probably too optimistic
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sun May 09, 2010 2:36 am UTC

Didn't scientists suggest that red hair might be inherited from neanderthal ancestors?

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sun May 09, 2010 5:01 am UTC

Sheikh al-Majaneen wrote:Didn't scientists suggest that red hair might be inherited from neanderthal ancestors?


Oh crap I'm attracted to cave-people! ;)
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Lazar » Sun May 09, 2010 5:21 am UTC

I like Neanderthals, so it's cool to learn I might be descended from some of them.

PeterW wrote:In addition to the obvious, this study also falsifies the strong Out-of-Africa hypothesis,

It falsifies what Dr Paabo calls the "strong OOA hypothesis", but not the OOA hypothesis more broadly construed. It's consistent with the notion that Modern Man originated in Africa, emigrated through western Asia somewhere around 50 thousand years ago to populate other areas, and (as many suspected) engaged in some small-scale interbreeding with the indigenous Neanderthals along the way. If this study's conclusions are correct, non-Africans are only about 1-4% Neanderthal, meaning that the basic premise of OOA (that all living humans are descended from a founder population of H. sapiens living in Africa) remains true.

by showing that there were genetically distinct groups of humans as much at 100,000 years ago.

Get your terminology right. A human is a member of Genus Homo; there have been humans of various species for over 2 million years.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Josephine » Sun May 09, 2010 7:45 am UTC

Homo sapiens sapiens is the only member of the genus with a common name. 'human' isn't really an alternative to 'homo'.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Jplus » Sun May 09, 2010 7:56 am UTC

If we are nitpicking over names anyway: nowadays we call ourselves just Homo sapiens. We used to distinguish Homo sapiens sapiens from Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, but the Neanderthals aren't considered a subspecies of Homo sapiens anymore, so adding an additional "sapiens" epitheton doesn't add any information.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Josephine » Sun May 09, 2010 7:58 am UTC

Ah. I didn't know that. I'll leave it as your post makes more sense with it there.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Sun May 09, 2010 8:14 am UTC

poxic wrote:That said, I'm kind of happy to know that I could be carrying some Neandertal genes. Like maybe there were just a few Homo sapiens weirdos who thought their Neandertal neighbours weren't totally evil and ugly and could in fact be friends and lovers, and I carry forward their genes.

It's funny, whenever I've seen human/Neanderthal procreation in a documentary it's always been portrayed as, well, rape. And always committed by male humans, with female Neanderthal victims. Like you, I like to give our ancestors more credit than that.

Maybe this is part of why I don't rely on documentaries for information anymore (seriously, their best educated guess for why humans would want to sex Neanderthals was that some horny men might want to participate in, from the way it was portrayed, something akin to bestiality. Which is really limited thinking, considering the documentary spent a lot of time previously establishing how intelligent and cultured Neanderthals were).

nbonaparte wrote:Ah. I didn't know that.

Rule of thumb: if you disagree with someone on a topic where they seem to know their shit on that topic, you're probably wrong, and should at least do some cursory research before you try to tell them that they're wrong. Homo.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Ulc » Sun May 09, 2010 10:04 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:It's funny, whenever I've seen human/Neanderthal procreation in a documentary it's always been portrayed as, well, rape. And always committed by male humans, with female Neanderthal victims. Like you, I like to give our ancestors more credit than that.


Probably caused by Jean M. Auel

While a good read, those books are sometime taken as a bit more real than they should be.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Habz » Sun May 09, 2010 10:39 am UTC

Looking at the figure of a certain boxer, that 4% seems like an understatement.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Sun May 09, 2010 10:54 am UTC

Ulc wrote:While a good read, those books are sometime taken as a bit more real than they should be.

My mother loves those books, but from all I've perused from them they have something about Neanderthals having genetic memories? There are worse parts?
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby poxic » Sun May 09, 2010 6:19 pm UTC

I mostly remember the stone-and-sling thing. And the "deep pink folds" that were on display every few pages. >.<
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Telchar » Mon May 10, 2010 4:00 am UTC

I am disappointed that this thread is not about my penis.

Carry on.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby reevey » Mon May 10, 2010 11:52 am UTC

My only thought on this was that it explains why we still have the BNP in the UK. And West Ham/Millwall/Cardiff/Leeds etc soccer hooligans.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Sharlos » Mon May 10, 2010 2:35 pm UTC

reevey wrote:My only thought on this was that it explains why we still have the BNP in the UK. And West Ham/Millwall/Cardiff/Leeds etc soccer hooligans.

Well that's pretty racist, assuming that douchebags like them have anything in common with Neanderthals.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Jplus » Mon May 10, 2010 2:37 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
nbonaparte wrote:Ah. I didn't know that.

Rule of thumb: if you disagree with someone on a topic where they seem to know their shit on that topic, you're probably wrong, and should at least do some cursory research before you try to tell them that they're wrong. Homo.

Did you direct this to nbonaparte or to me? In either case, aren't you overreacting a bit...?
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby SlyReaper » Mon May 10, 2010 2:44 pm UTC

Sharlos wrote:
reevey wrote:My only thought on this was that it explains why we still have the BNP in the UK. And West Ham/Millwall/Cardiff/Leeds etc soccer hooligans.

Well that's pretty racist, assuming that douchebags like them have anything in common with Neanderthals.

Neanderthals are known to have had smaller brains than modern humans. This probably resulted in reduced intelligence compared to you and I. So there at least, the BNP and football hooligans have something in common with neanderthals.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby WaterToFire » Mon May 10, 2010 8:45 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
Sharlos wrote:
reevey wrote:My only thought on this was that it explains why we still have the BNP in the UK. And West Ham/Millwall/Cardiff/Leeds etc soccer hooligans.

Well that's pretty racist, assuming that douchebags like them have anything in common with Neanderthals.

Neanderthals are known to have had smaller brains than modern humans. This probably resulted in reduced intelligence compared to you and I. So there at least, the BNP and football hooligans have something in common with neanderthals.

According to Wikipedia, Neanderthal cranial capacity ranged from 1,100–1,900 cm^3, while humans ranged from 1200-1850 cm^3, so very similar. I've seen estimates that Neanderthals had larger brain capacity on average. Not that it's particularly relevant to your joke... just sayin'.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby justaman » Mon May 10, 2010 8:54 pm UTC

WaterToFire wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:Neanderthals are known to have had smaller brains than modern humans. This probably resulted in reduced intelligence compared to you and I. So there at least, the BNP and football hooligans have something in common with neanderthals.

According to Wikipedia, Neanderthal cranial capacity ranged from 1,100–1,900 cm^3, while humans ranged from 1200-1850 cm^3, so very similar. I've seen estimates that Neanderthals had larger brain capacity on average. Not that it's particularly relevant to your joke... just sayin'.

Yeah, brain size does not necessarily correlate with intelligence. Many organisms have brains larger than human brains (whales, dolphins, elephants, I'm guessing rhino and hippo too), but it would be safe to argue that most of these are probably not as intelligent as an adult human. The degree of encephalisation (folding of the brain surface) seems to be the key.

Edited to add: I think the way the OP's article was portrayed in the news is slightly misleading. The reports showed arrows of Neanderthal coming south and Humans heading north to meet in the middle east. Now, I would have thought it unlikely that convergent evolution would have lead to two organisms so close in genetics that they can interbreed, without some sort of common ancestor. Neanderthal must have come from a slightly earlier migration out of Africa is my thought.

Anyway, I should go read the original paper and see how they actually made the conclusions... science reporting seems to be going downhill these days and often getting it wrong.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Jplus » Mon May 10, 2010 10:24 pm UTC

Homo sapiens has 1400 cm2 of brains on average, Homo neanderthalensis had 1440 cm2 on average. Not a big difference but Neanderthal brains certainly weren't smaller. Also, even though sapiens and neanderthalensis were separate species, they split from a common ancestor quite recently so that probably wasn't too much of a problem for interbreeding.

And yes, convergent evolution is not enough to make interbreeding possible. The torpedo-like shape of both penguins and whales is often cited as a good example of convergent evolution, but nobody would believe they could interbreed. Neanderthals and modern humans needed no convergent evolution to be similar.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby SummerGlauFan » Tue May 11, 2010 4:00 am UTC

Jplus wrote:Homo sapiens has 1400 cm2 of brains on average, Homo neanderthalensis had 1440 cm2 on average. Not a big difference but Neanderthal brains certainly weren't smaller. Also, even though sapiens and neanderthalensis were separate species, they split from a common ancestor quite recently so that probably wasn't too much of a problem for interbreeding.


I good indicator of Neanderthal intelligence would be a study of their tools and weapons; they barely register any improvements for thousands of years, while modern human tools and weapons continued to have recognizable improvements at a fairly steady rate. As someone stated earlier, brain size does not really equate intelligence.

Jplus wrote:And yes, convergent evolution is not enough to make interbreeding possible. The torpedo-like shape of both penguins and whales is often cited as a good example of convergent evolution, but nobody would believe they could interbreed. Neanderthals and modern humans needed no convergent evolution to be similar.


I just got a rather disturbing mental image of a whale trying to mate with a penguin. Poor penguin.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Omegaton » Tue May 11, 2010 4:10 am UTC

Hot Piplup on Wailord action?

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby 4=5 » Tue May 11, 2010 5:45 am UTC

1 to 4% seems like a much larger percentage than I would expect.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Cynical Idealist » Tue May 11, 2010 6:21 am UTC

Omegaton wrote:Hot Piplup on Wailord action?

It would appear to work in canon.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Lazar » Tue May 11, 2010 7:50 am UTC

justaman wrote:Edited to add: I think the way the OP's article was portrayed in the news is slightly misleading. The reports showed arrows of Neanderthal coming south and Humans heading north to meet in the middle east. Now, I would have thought it unlikely that convergent evolution would have lead to two organisms so close in genetics that they can interbreed, without some sort of common ancestor. Neanderthal must have come from a slightly earlier migration out of Africa is my thought.

Yes, modern man and Neanderthal man had diverged from a common ancestor (possibly H. heidelbergensis) several hundred thousand years earlier. Animals within the same genus can typically breed with each other.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Jplus » Tue May 11, 2010 10:15 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
Jplus wrote:Homo sapiens has 1400 cm2 of brains on average, Homo neanderthalensis had 1440 cm2 on average. Not a big difference but Neanderthal brains certainly weren't smaller. Also, even though sapiens and neanderthalensis were separate species, they split from a common ancestor quite recently so that probably wasn't too much of a problem for interbreeding.


I good indicator of Neanderthal intelligence would be a study of their tools and weapons; they barely register any improvements for thousands of years, while modern human tools and weapons continued to have recognizable improvements at a fairly steady rate. As someone stated earlier, brain size does not really equate intelligence.

Very true. I did not intend to "defend" Neanderthal intelligence.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby justaman » Tue May 11, 2010 9:02 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
justaman wrote:Edited to add: I think the way the OP's article was portrayed in the news is slightly misleading. The reports showed arrows of Neanderthal coming south and Humans heading north to meet in the middle east. Now, I would have thought it unlikely that convergent evolution would have lead to two organisms so close in genetics that they can interbreed, without some sort of common ancestor. Neanderthal must have come from a slightly earlier migration out of Africa is my thought.

Yes, modern man and Neanderthal man had diverged from a common ancestor (possibly H. heidelbergensis) several hundred thousand years earlier. Animals within the same genus can typically breed with each other.

Breed doesn't necessarily mean that the offspring are likely to be capable of reproducing, as is the case with mules (horse x donkey), which would limit gene flow into the population. This study is claiming that the interbreeding was enough to have genes retained, suggesting significant and long term interbreeding of very closely related populations. It also notes that there is no evidence for gene flow in the opposite direction (Human to Neanderthal), which is surprising.

There is another scenario, which would also make sense, as mentioned in the paper:
the original paper in Science wrote:For example, we cannot currently rule out a scenario in which the ancestral population of present-day non-Africans was more closely related to Neandertals than the ancestral population of present-day Africans due to ancient substructure within Africa (Fig. 6). If after the divergence of Neandertals there was incomplete genetic homogenization between what were to become the ancestors of non-Africans and Africans, present-day non-Africans would be more closely related to Neandertals than are Africans. In fact, old population substructure in Africa has been suggested based on genetic (81) as well as paleontological data (86).

So, a bit of sensationalism from the media, and some slightly fanciful scientific thought go a long way!
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Mot » Wed May 12, 2010 10:41 am UTC

justaman wrote:It also notes that there is no evidence for gene flow in the opposite direction (Human to Neanderthal), which is surprising.

This got me thinking: Perhaps the offspring of a human male and a neanderthal female was infertile, but the offspring of a neanderthal male and a human female had a chance of being fertile. This could explain why genes were transferred form Neanderthals -> Humans and not the other way round (assuming the offspring is raised by he mother in her tribe). Another possibility is of course that only the one type of hybrid was fit enough to survive to a mating age.

(Think Liger and Tiglon)

Also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiglon#Fertility
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby justaman » Wed May 12, 2010 8:42 pm UTC

Mot wrote:
justaman wrote:It also notes that there is no evidence for gene flow in the opposite direction (Human to Neanderthal), which is surprising.

This got me thinking: Perhaps the offspring of a human male and a neanderthal female was infertile, but the offspring of a neanderthal male and a human female had a chance of being fertile. This could explain why genes were transferred form Neanderthals -> Humans and not the other way round (assuming the offspring is raised by he mother in her tribe). Another possibility is of course that only the one type of hybrid was fit enough to survive to a mating age.

(Think Liger and Tiglon)

Interesting idea, I didn't know female Tiglons were fertile. Fertility is occasionally seen in Mules, but I think the offspring are always infertile. I think the lack of gene flow observed is more likely to be limited sample size and limited ability to recover old DNA (38,000 years is a long time). Much of the Neanderthal DNA sequence will be based on finding a short fragment specific for a particular gene and assuming it is the same as the modern man one, which could mask gene flow in the other direction.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Omegaton » Wed May 12, 2010 11:22 pm UTC

Mot wrote:
justaman wrote:It also notes that there is no evidence for gene flow in the opposite direction (Human to Neanderthal), which is surprising.

This got me thinking: Perhaps the offspring of a human male and a neanderthal female was infertile, but the offspring of a neanderthal male and a human female had a chance of being fertile. This could explain why genes were transferred form Neanderthals -> Humans and not the other way round (assuming the offspring is raised by he mother in her tribe). Another possibility is of course that only the one type of hybrid was fit enough to survive to a mating age.

(Think Liger and Tiglon)

Also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiglon#Fertility

I think you might misunderstand what they mean by gene flow. DNA transferring between species doesn't depend on which is giving the sperm; genes from a female individual still allows for gene flow.

For gene flow to not occur from humans to neanderthals but to occur from neanderthals to humans, human-neanderthal hybrids must only breed with neanderthals and not with humans.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Mot » Wed May 12, 2010 11:36 pm UTC

Omegaton wrote:I think you might misunderstand what they mean by gene flow. DNA transferring between species doesn't depend on which is giving the sperm; genes from a female individual still allows for gene flow.


I am fully aware of this. This was just an idea explaining why the hybrids will mate with humans and not neanderthal. Assumption #1: The hybrid is raised by its mother and therefore in the human tribe.
Assumption #2: Having been raised by a human, said hybrid mates with human.

EDIT: To clarify, I didn't mean that it's the source of sperm that determines gene flow, but rather that (in this scenario) the fertile hybrid would breed with humans. I'm not completely ignorant of how things work.only mostly

Also I agree with justaman's statement:
justaman wrote:I think the lack of gene flow observed is more likely to be limited sample size and limited ability to recover old DNA (38,000 years is a long time).


The one-hybrid-fertile-thing was just an interesting idea i wanted to share.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Omegaton » Wed May 12, 2010 11:55 pm UTC

Mot wrote:
Omegaton wrote:I think you might misunderstand what they mean by gene flow. DNA transferring between species doesn't depend on which is giving the sperm; genes from a female individual still allows for gene flow.


I am fully aware of this. This was just an idea explaining why the hybrids will mate with humans and not neanderthal. Assumption #1: The hybrid is raised by its mother and therefore in the human tribe.
Assumption #2: Having been raised by a human, said hybrid mates with human.

Humans were raised by humans too, and yet somehow still mated with neanderthals. The fact that a neanderthal hybrid was raised by humans does not seem like a good enough explanation to me to restrict gene flow back to neanderthals.

Though I agree that small sample size is a likely part of the explanation for what we see. Rarity of hybridization probably also contributes.

And Haldane's Rule is pretty cool, yes.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Mot » Thu May 13, 2010 12:22 pm UTC

Omegaton wrote:Humans were raised by humans too, and yet somehow still mated with neanderthals.

Only the ugly ones.

You have a good point. I admit that my 'theory' has a few holes. It could be that human-neanderthal hybrids are only fertile when mated with humans. I don't know if there is a precedent for this is nature. But by this point I am making too many assumptions and guesses based on nothing, so I will concede.
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby Moo » Thu May 13, 2010 12:48 pm UTC

(hello, fellow Matie! Sorry about the interruption, please carry on)
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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby crowey » Thu May 13, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Omegaton wrote:
Mot wrote:
Omegaton wrote:I think you might misunderstand what they mean by gene flow. DNA transferring between species doesn't depend on which is giving the sperm; genes from a female individual still allows for gene flow.


I am fully aware of this. This was just an idea explaining why the hybrids will mate with humans and not neanderthal. Assumption #1: The hybrid is raised by its mother and therefore in the human tribe.
Assumption #2: Having been raised by a human, said hybrid mates with human.

Humans were raised by humans too, and yet somehow still mated with neanderthals. The fact that a neanderthal hybrid was raised by humans does not seem like a good enough explanation to me to restrict gene flow back to neanderthals.

Though I agree that small sample size is a likely part of the explanation for what we see. Rarity of hybridization probably also contributes.

And Haldane's Rule is pretty cool, yes.

well, considering that we don't know if any of the neanderthal/human matings were consensual, I don't think it's a good idea to assume much about whether humans found neanderthals sexy or not. Especially as human tribes would be encroaching into neanderthal territories, I'd expect there to be warfare and rape between the tribes, occasionally resulting in hybrid offspring.

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Re: Congrats, you're parts Neanderthal!

Postby PeterW » Thu May 13, 2010 2:43 pm UTC

reevey wrote:My only thought on this was that it explains why we still have the BNP in the UK. And West Ham/Millwall/Cardiff/Leeds etc soccer hooligans.
Well this is funny, because it ascribes boorish behavior to those with Neanderthal genes*.

Now, as we all know, the findings of this study show that Europeans and Asians have these genes, and Africans do not. I'd be willing to bet that this story would have gotten much less play, and wise guys would crack fewer jokes, if it had been the other way 'round.

*As it turns out, and as has been pointed out above, Neanderthals may well have had larger brains than modern humans, and at least at one point they were ahead technologically. The caveman stereotype is not terribly accurate, with apologies to GEICO.


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